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Neurosci Res. 2011 Dec;71(4):315-27. doi: 10.1016/j.neures.2011.09.001. Epub 2011 Sep 17.

Differences between otolith- and semicircular canal-activated neural circuitry in the vestibular system.

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  • 1Health Service Facility for the Elderly, "Green Village Angyo", Angyo 1145, Kawaguchi-Shi 334-0059, Saitama Prefecture, Japan. y_uchino@tmg.or.jp

Abstract

In the last two decades, we have focused on establishing a reliable technique for focal stimulation of vestibular receptors to evaluate neural connectivity. Here, we summarize the vestibular-related neuronal circuits for the vestibulo-ocular reflex, vestibulocollic reflex, and vestibulospinal reflex arcs. The focal stimulating technique also uncovered some hidden neural mechanisms. In the otolith system, we identified two hidden neural mechanisms that enhance otolith receptor sensitivity. The first is commissural inhibition, which boosts sensitivity by incorporating inputs from bilateral otolith receptors, the existence of which was in contradiction to the classical understanding of the otolith system but was observed in the utricular system. The second mechanism, cross-striolar inhibition, intensifies the sensitivity of inputs from both sides of receptive cells across the striola in a single otolith sensor. This was an entirely novel finding and is typically observed in the saccular system. We discuss the possible functional meaning of commissural and cross-striolar inhibition. Finally, our focal stimulating technique was applied to elucidate the different constructions of axonal projections from each vestibular receptor to the spinal cord. We also discuss the possible function of the unique neural connectivity observed in each vestibular receptor system.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd and the Japan Neuroscience Society. All rights reserved.

PMID:
21968226
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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